“We can easily practice santosa in the beautiful moments and joyous experiences of our lives. But Patanjali asks us to be equally willing to embrace the difficult moments.”
The second niyama is santosa, or contentment. It is being grateful for what we have and content with who we are and where we are in life. I have always considered myself a positive person, someone who sees the glass as half full versus half empty. Growing up I had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with my maternal grandmother. She led a simple life but also a life filled with much pain as she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the challenges she faced daily just to get through life, she always had a smile on her face and so much love to give. As an adult, I came to realize just how much she influenced me and the way I view life.
Yet contentment has been a struggle for me this past year. Going through a job lay-off after 30 years, I have struggled with my contentment of where I am right now. These struggles give me deeper appreciation for my practice. When I am on my mat I am once again reminded of my breath, the poses require me to focus on what I can do in that moment and when I step off my mat I am can’t help but feel grateful for what I have --- for what I have just experienced.
My grandmother passed away when I was in college. Her death was the first time I experienced losing someone that I was really close to. It was after her death that I truly began believing in angels. There would be moments when I could feel her presence or times that I was acutely aware of signals she was sending me.
I know that my current struggle will end. I also know that there will be another one to take its place, to challenge me to practice santosa --- such is life.
Being able to teach yoga to kids is a gift. When I look at their smiling faces and experience their boundless energy I am grateful to be there in those moments with them. What an honor to help kids learn a practice that can guide them throughout their lives. And at the end of a class when a smiling little face heads my way and gives me a big hug, I know my grandmother is sending me a sign.